The UK Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland has set sail for sea trials, after the completion of upgrade and substantial maintenance programme at Babcock’s Devonport Royal Dockyard.
The refit programme was undertaken under the Surface Ship Support Alliance, which is an alliance between the UK Ministry of Defence, Babcock and BAE systems, class output management (COM) arrangements.
HMS Sutherland captain commander Stephen Anderson said: "This occasion is the most significant step yet towards HMS Sutherland’s return to the fleet after a 14-month absence for a maintenance package that will extend our in-service life considerably."
Upgrades to the warship include installation of the DNA(2) Command System and the Advanced Radar Target Indication Situational Awareness and Navigation (Artisan) 3D Radar Type 997, chloropac system, modification to underwater inlets and outlets, an upgrade to the high-pressure air system pipework and galley equipment, among others.
The DNA(2) Command System is central to the ship’s capability against air, surface and underwater threats, and the Artisan 3D Radar Type 997 improves its air-defence, anti-ship and air traffic management capabilities.
Additional enhancements include maintenance and minor upgrades on weapons systems, such as the 4.5in gun.
Babcock Surface Combatant programme manager Gary Simpson said: "HMS Sutherland has left Devonport for sea trials in significantly better condition with improved sustainability and fighting capability, following what has been a challenging programme, including the emergent structural repair requirement involving considerable planning and management.
"This upkeep has enabled valuable experience to be gained, which will in turn form an important contribution in meeting the challenge of delivering extended operating life for the rest of the class, as the Type 23 life extension upkeep programme starts later this year."
Upon completion of sea trials, the frigate will return to Plymouth and will undergo flag officer sea training to operate as a war-fighting team.
HMS Sutherland is scheduled to return to the fleet in the next few months.
Image: HMS Sutherland sailed for the first time after a major 13-month refit. Photo: courtesy of Royal Navy.